- - Wednesday, July 5, 2017

On first listen to the music of Bobby Long, one might expect him to be a much older gentlemen brought up in the heartland. His songs have a very distinctive American rock and roots feel, a la John Mellencamp and maybe some Bruce Springsteen — which at first seems somewhat odd for the English-born thirtysomething.

But fans have continued to follow him since his song “Let Me Sign” appeared in “Twilight,” aided by an ongoing social media presence and constant touring. In advance of playing Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia, Saturday, the jet-lagged singer discussed how his live show is not like Blue Man Group, how he balances his music and poetry and the one thing he never leaves home without.

Question: I understand you might be a bit jet-lagged.

Answer: Yeah, I got back the day before yesterday from a long tour of Europe. I did a lot in Germany, Austria, Holland and the Czech Republic, plus Switzerland.

I haven’t got much time for being jet-lagged, really. My wife just had a baby. He’s two months old.

Q: How are the audiences different in Europe than in the U.S.?

A: The venues are the big difference. They have a lot of old folk clubs in Europe — really small theaters that seat 150. Low-lit rooms with a lot of the same fabric on the floors as on the walls. That sets the tone for more of a listening experience than in America.

I think because of the [multilingual culture], they have to be a bit more attentive.

Q: What drew you to the acoustic guitar?

A: My dad played, first of all. And I like the singularity about it.

You could be one person singing and playing. You don’t need a band. I was more into the electric guitar early on. You can take an acoustic guitar everywhere with you. You don’t need a whole lot of equipment. [Playing] live, it is pretty full-sounding. It’s a mixture of practicality and singularity.

Q: Does the massive popularity of Ed Sheeran help you as a singer/songwriter?

A: I don’t think that just because he is doing extraordinarily well that it aids the rest of the people making music. I don’t think it works like that. There definitely have been times, like maybe the ‘60s, that all these great bands came over and people would say, “I’m into British rock ‘n’ roll.”

I think what I do is so different [from Mr. Sheeran]. Even his audience is different. I don’t think they would listen to me.

Q: Your musical style is very American roots rock. What artists do you consider influences?

A: Is there any other kind of music? I feel like unless you’re playing a lute or in a Latin country, blues is the home of the guitar. I feel like it is hard to play guitar and not have that.

So much music came out of America that has been so monumental that it just influences everything. The influences just got handed down to you. The Beatles were influenced by American music. I love the Beatles, so, therefore, I’m influenced by American music through them.

Q: Do you consider yourself a troubadour? A folk singer?

A: Not really. I won’t call myself a folk singer because there may be elements of it, but not enough like Woody Guthrie. I just consider myself a songwriter who sings.

Q: You’re also a published poet. Which comes easier, music or poetry?

A: If it’s a good day, then they both come extraordinarily easy. You question why you don’t write 10 of them a day. On a bad day, you wonder why you can’t do anything. Some days it just flows and you think, “I was just born to do this.” The next day you think, “I should have worked at a bank.” (Laughs)

The excruciating and exciting thing about it is there are no rules. You feel like sometimes it’s just left up to the stars a little bit.

Q: When it comes out of you, do you know then and there if it is going to be a poem or a song?

A: A lot of times I make a choice. If I’m writing a book, then that is what I’m doing. I don’t really cross them over that much. Or if I’m writing songs, that’s what I’m doing, so anything that comes out will be a song. If I didn’t make that choice, I would go nuts.

Q: How did the song “Let Me Sign” being in “Twilight” change your life?

A: It did in term of it took me to a stage where people were asking questions about me, and maybe the front door was open a little bit. Sometimes people need something concrete to hang their hat on. That song being in the film was a helping hand along the way.

Q: What can people expect when they come to see you live?

A: I really love playing live. I put a lot of energy into it. I view it like a responsibility. I want to give the best show that I can. It’s not the Blue Man Group. (Laughs) My live show is pretty simple.

Q: When touring, what is the one thing you need on the road to keep sane?

A: Marijuana, maybe? (Laughs) To be honest, the best thing is someone to travel with, whether it’s a tour manager or the guy who’s the supporting act.

Camaraderie is very important. It’s important to have someone great on tour you can laugh with and not get annoyed at.

Q: Tell me about your new poetry book.

A: I just released it a few months ago. It’s called “Losing My Misery,” and I’m working on a new record as well.

Bobby Long shares the bill with Kalob Griffin at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia, Saturday. Tickets are on $15 by going to Ticketfly.com


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